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Home arrow newsitems arrow PACE Bureau endorsed Motion on Refugees/IDPs Human Rights as key for Peace, backed by ECHR President

PACE Bureau endorsed Motion on Refugees/IDPs Human Rights as key for Peace, backed by ECHR President

Written by ACM
Sunday, 01 February 2009
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    - "The recent Georgia - Russia conflict showed that protracted situations where Displaced persons' Human Rights are not respected, ..may become dangerous for Peace", anywhere among CoE member Countries", said to "EuroFora" the President of PACE Refugees, Migration and Population Committee, Dutch MEP Mrs Corian JONKER, who drafted the Motion.    On the contrary, "if we (CoE) succceed to highlight enough Displaced persons' Rights, then, this may help to find agreed Solutions''', she added

     Her Draft was signed by many MEPs including all Chairmen of PACE's Political Groups, (EuroLeft's COX, Socialists' GROSS, Liberals' EORSI, ChristianDemocrats/EPP's Van den BRANDE and Democrats' WILSHIRE), in a rare unanimity on Principles from the Right to the Left of all the political spectrum...

    Assembly's Bureau endorsed the Motion on "Protecting the human rights of long-term displaced persons in Europe", Friday in Strasbourg, in view of a crucial session of the PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly on the State of Human Rights in Europe scheduled for June.

    The move was backed by ECHR's President, Jean-Paul COSTA speaking to "EuroFora" : - "Yes, of course", he agreed with our question if "respect for Refugees/IDP's Human' Rights could facilitate Peace Solutions", as this Motion believes.

    The contrary, i.e. "neglecting the interests of IDPs carries a real Political Risk that Frozen Conflicts associated with them can re-ignite at any time", warns MEPs' Motion. "Continued international indifference to long-term displacement situations can lead to renewed conflict, significant loss of life and the displacement of many more people from their homelands".

    - "Scattered in 11 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe" (almost 1 in 4 : 20%), "the unresolved situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs)", led to "regular expressions of concern" by CoE's Assembly, which " has consistently called on governments to seek durable solutions for the return of the displaced and to guarantee the protection of their rights", stresses the Motion from the outset. This "includes: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Moldova, Russia, Serbia and Turkey".

    Some 3 million People "remain displaced" in CoE's area, "99% of whom fled their Homes" 15 to 35 years ago "as a result of Conflicts", "and most of them have settled elsewhere than their places of origin". "The Majority of the displaced ...struggle to enjoy their rights and are marginalised by disregard or for failure to protect their human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights"..

    From Russian President MEDVEDEV, to Croatian Prime Minister SANADER, several Chiefs of State or Government have officially accepted the Principle of IDP's return, despite problems on the spot. But others still abstain or refuse to do so..

    While things evolve slowly in the Balkans, Cyprus' reunification Peace Talks started to deal with Refugees/IDP's issues, where classic differencies have to be overcome, and ECHR's judgements to be clarified and applied also on Cyprus' territories occupied by Ankara's troops.

    - But "Refugees and IDPs must also be associated and actively involved, in one way or another, to Negotiations on their Future : It would be an error to totally ignore their views", warned "EuroFora" also Draftswoman JONKER, as President of CoE Assembly's competentCommittee.    


    CoE''s Member "States" must "inform and involve IDPs on all relevant steps, and to the extent possible, provide them the opportunity to participate in Decisions affecting them", Motion says.

    "As regards Political Solutions", CoE's Ministers should "step up efforts aimed at the peaceful settlement of the conflicts ... with a view to guarantee Return of all refugees and displaced persons to their places of origin if they so wish". Therefore, CoE should "work with respective governments and international actors towards creating durable Solutions for the Displaced, with a particular focus on planning for Returns, and for Property Restitution or Compensation"

    The Motion "calls upon member States" to "ensure the Safety and security of IDPs, particularly at locations of Return". To "fully respect the voluntary .. Return", and "to Restitute Property".  "CoE must contribute more effectively towards creating sustainable conditions for safe Return of IDPs", and  "raise awareness on the existing protection mechanisms under the European Convention on Human Rights", which developed a pioneer case-law in Strasbourg, cited as an example throughout the World, since 1996-2009.

    - The Human "Right of IDPs to choose between Return to their Homes, local integration at the site of displacement, or Resettlement to another part of the Country must be respected. That choice must be voluntary and informed", CoE's Motion stresses.

    - "IDPs should not be used as political pawns" : ."In the absence of political settlements, (temporary) ...local integration is not necessarily incompatible with return" : "Enabling the displaced to lead a normal life, and protecting their right to return, are not mutually exclusive". While "governments should not deny the scale of displacement ...and direct international attention elsewhere".

    CoE's Motion also asks to " fight against the Impunity for Violations suffered by many IDPs", and urges CoE's member States "to investigate and bring to Justice the Perpetrators of Human Rights Violations and Crimes committed during the various armed Conflicts that have led to displacements".
    
    This is part of PACE's intention to focus, at its June 2009 session, on the struggle against Impunity.
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    (PHOTO, above : The "Jonker Equation" : 5 Political Group Leaders and ECHR's President backing Refugees' Human Rights and Peace, will succeed to find solutions ?)

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Facing a 70% Abstention threat in 2009 Election, EU endorses EuroFora's idea for Citizens' debates on crucial EU decisions !

- Different views on "Europe's Future", should be debated among Citizens at June 2009 EU Elections, thanks to political Parties' "Manifestos", says EU Parliament's Report


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
A main idea, initiated and promoted by EuroFora's founders since 1997: the vital need to develop European Citizens' democratic right to actively participate in multilingual debates on EU decisions, is formally endorsed by the EU from 2009 !

The move is a key attempt to overcome "catastrophic" Polls which warn that only ...30% of Citizens are ready to vote in the forthcoming June 2009 EU Election !  This was revealed by EU Commission's vice-president, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, during a "hot" meeting of EU Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education, during the December 2008 Strasbourg session.

Wallstrom faced criticism, but also suggestions from various MEPs, naturally worried by Abstention threats which herself found even "worse" than in 1999 or 2004...

A Report on "Active Dialogue with Citizens",examined at the same time, presented some useful practical tips, on "facilitating Interviews"; etc., but also a  potentialy important call to "incorporate the conclusions of ...debates...into (EU) policies, and take into consideration the expectations that Citizens have of the EU when deciding". An amendment even implies that Citizens' participation in debates on EU decisions is a democratic "Right".

More importantly, it finds that  a Debate "on the Future of Europe", (as French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked since 2007), would be a good idea " for the 2009 European parliamentary Elections", because "clarifying the political differences between the EU political parties would help citizens to identify themselves with, and choose between various concepts", for which "all parties (should) present their Manifesto".

A "Joint political declaration on Communicating Europe in Partnership", co-signed by "the European Parliament, Council and ... Commission", confirms that they "attach the utmost importance to improving communication on EU issues", by "enabling European citizens to exercise their right to participate in the democratic life of the Union, in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizens, observing the principles of pluralism, participation, openness and transparency".

This should "enable Citizens to exercise their right to express their views and to participate actively in the public Debate on European Union issues", while also "promoting the respect of multilingualism". In this regard, EU confirms its "wish to develop synergies with national, regional and local authorities as well as with representatives of Civil Society".

    It's since 1997 that a group of EuroFora's founders have officially presented a pioneer Project (then called "EIW", for "Europe in the World"), which aimed to develop Strasbourg's "Polyphonic music", by providing "Interactive information", on "main issues ... during the Decision-making process of European Organizations which engage in Transparent and Public Democratic Debates"

    This should be done, inter alia, by "exploring the potential of New Communication Tools (mainly Internet)", as well as classic-form debates, the 1997 EIW pioneer project's anounced in its "Synopsis". It was formally "accepted for evaluation" by EU Commission in Brussels in order to be examined for a grant in the framework of the "Research/Technology/Development (RTD) Programme in the field of Information Technologies", then called "ESPRIT", as a "Best Practice Pilot Project".

eiw_project_eu_program_esprit_ds_1997.._400

        But the vital, urgent Political need for EU to search new, efficient ways to reach the People and interact with European Citizens, was really felt in Brussels and elsewhere only after the unprecedented in History 1999 and 2004 Majority Abstention in EU Elections, followed by 3 "NO" in Referenda in France, the Netherlands and Ireland, on 2005 and 2008...
    In this New Political Landscape, we prepared a new, actualised and more developed version of our initial idea, in a simplified and more efficient form, thanks also to a large Experience accumulated during many years of EU/CoE/UNO Press work and Multi-lingual debates, with the New project "EuroFora" :

    On 2006 we presented in Public its main lines during Questions/Replies that we raised at two Press Conferences by EU Commission President, Jose Baroso, and mainly EU Commission's vice-President, in charge of Communication policy, Margot Wallstrom, together with EU Parliament's vice-president, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, in Strasbourg, (Videos available), and we reminded it at various brief contacts with Commissioner Wallstrom in 2007 and 2008.

    Meanwhile, a new Text was also presented for "EuroFora" Project mainly to certain Political and other personalities, at European, National or Regional/Local level, mainly in 2007, but also in 2008..

    Now, after the unexpected 2008 Irish "NO", and before the 2009 EU Elections, which are due to be of exceptionally crucial importance for Europe's Future, the moment has obviously come to launch that project, progressively, but in real practice.

    Whoever really cares for Europe and its Citizens is welcome to join, in one way or another. Only anti-European, anti-democratic, obscure or ignorant groups might oppose or attempt to "steal" and deviate the main idea.

    But European Citizens, incited by enlightened political leaders, are those who will finally write the real History.

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2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?

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